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APRIL 9, 1868 



InUrttatiffnal ^oj'grigjt ^sscnatioit* 






FEB 1 1928 



46, 48, 50 Greene St, N. Y. 






The members of tte Committee, at whose call the meeting, 
of which the following pages are a record, was convened, 
were impressed with the unusual significance of what was 
spoken and read on the occasion. It is not probable that so 
valuable a presentation of the grounds upon which an Inter- 
national Copyright Law is claimed to be the right of authors 
and publishers everywhere, will ever again be made. They 
have accordingly requested the Secretary, Mr. Stedman, to 
prepare his Report of proceedings, in this form, for publication 
by the International Copyright Association. It is earnestly 
hoped that the facts and arguments here printed will obtain 
the attention, not only of journalists and speakers who make 
public opinion, but of the national representatives at Washing- 
ton, by whose act alone, can the United States be set right 
upon the question before the world. 

Geoege p. Putnam, 
S. Iken^tjs Prime, 
Hei^t Ivison, 
James Parton, 
£aB£BT Hazard. 



Circular of the Committee 5 

List of Officers 6 

Letter of George William Curtis 6 

S.D. Gross 7 

Prof. Agassiz 8 

A. J. Eoe 8 

John G. Palfrey 9 

J.T.Headley 9 

William Goodell 10 

Dr. Dio Lewis 10 

Dr. J. G. Holland 10 

James T. Fields 10 

J.W.Harper , 11 

William Gilmore Simms 11 

William R. Williams, D. D 11 

Henry 0. Carey 12 

William M. Blackburn 12 

Speech of William CuUen Bryant 13 

Report of the Committee 18 

Speech of S. IrensDUs Prime, D. D 17 

Dr. Francis Lieber 20 

Samuel Osgood, D. D 24 

Philip Schaff, D. D '. 26 


I. The Right of Copyright, by S. Irensaus Prime 29 

n. Lord Mansfield's Opinion — ^Letter from Albert Mathews 38 

HL Statement of the Question, by Richard Grant White 35 

lY. Copyright Association — Organization and list of members 41 








A. MEETING of authors, artists, publishers, and others wishing to 
consider the question of International Copyright, was held on the 
evening of the 9th of April, 1868, in the Hall of the Historical Society, 
corner of Eleventh street and Second Avenue, New York. 

The assemblage was brought together by issue of the following 
circidar : 


New Yobk, 661 Broadway, ( 
March 12, 1868. ) 

It is proposed to hold a second meeting in the city of New York, to 
consider farther the subject of International Copyright, and to concert 
measures for securing the early establishment of an International Copy- 
right system among all the civilized nations of the earth. This meeting 
will be held in the Hall of the New York Historical Society, at the 
corner of Second Avenue and Eleventh street, on Thursday evening, 
April the 9th, at eight o'clock. You are earnestly invited to attend. 

In case you cannot be present, your views on the subject, for or 
against, and any suggestions you may be pleased to offer, will be wel- 
comed, and duly considered. You are fiirther invited to sign the 
memorial annexed,*^ and to procure signatures tp it, and return the same 
to Geobge p. Putnam, at the address named above, before tha first of 

Geo. P.Putnam, Chavrman^l 
S. iRENiBUS Prime, | Committee appointed 

Henby Ivison, ^ at the meeting of 

James Pabton, Secretary. February, 1868. 


* See Appendix (IV.) 


Mr. George P. Putnam called the meeting to order, and nominated 
as Chairman WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, who was elected and 
warmly greeted. 


Prof. Francis Lieber, LL. D., D. Huntington, l^r^it Nat Acad, of 
Hon. Horace Greeley, Design^ 

Judge C. P. Daly, John H. Griscom, M. D., 

Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Rev. J. A. Spencer, D. D., 

Horace Webster, LL. D., Charles Scribner, 

Geo. p. Putnam, Henry Ivison. 

Edmund C. Stedman, A. D. F. Randolph. 

Many of these gentlemen were upon the platform. Mr. Bryant hav- 
ing taken the chair, 

Mr. Putnam reported that his Committee had sent the foregoing 
Circular to a large number of authors and publishers, and had received 
many answers to the same, and numerous signatures of persons dis- 
tinguished in literature or art, and of prominent publishers, to the Me- 
morial drawn up for presentation to Congress in behalf of an Interna- 
tional Copyright law. He repeated the names of many of the writers,* 
and then proceeded to read, in part or in fall, the following letters of 
special interest to those present : 

From George William Curtis. 

North Shore, Staten Island, > 
April r, 1868. J 

My JDear 8ir^ — It is impossible for me to come to the meeting on 
Thursday evening, but it is always possible for me to say that I believe 
every man to be the natural owner of the fruit of his labor, and that he 
cannot be justly deprived of it by partial laws. 

If, in accordance with the universal instincts of intelligent Christen- 
dom, an author has a right of property in his own country, he has it every- 
where. It may not be as valuable to him elsewhere as it is at home, but 
it is his and his only : and so long as it is recognized to be his, his right 
in it cannot be destroyed by the customs or the connivance of the laws 
of another country, without the most palpable and flagrant injustice. 

Even if it be proved necessary for the common welfare that the laws 

* See Appendix (IV). 



of his country should limit his right in his property to a certain time, 
still, during that time, as it is absolutely his, it cannot be appropriated 
by others without the greatest wrong to him. 

Now, since the aim of the best men in all civilized countries is that 
justice may be universally done, — and since in literary property what is 
just here is just everywhere, and since, as the old sailor said, God has 
somehow so fixed the world that a man can afford to do about right, — I 
sincerely hope that this country will lose no time in doing it. 

For my part I do not ask for favors, I demand rights. If the Gov- 
ernment of the United States protects, in England as well as at home, 
my rights of property in the potatoes I raise, it cannot honorably refuse 
to protect my equal property in the book I write. And if it chooses to 
offer the literary profession as a selfish sacrifice to a mistaken theory of 
the public welfare, it exposes itself to the fair indignation and contempt 
of the very class of its citizens that can forever perpetuate the memory 
of its injustice. 

I believe that if the authors of the United States and of England, 
who write the same language and cherish the same literary traditions, 
would unite in a continuous appeal to the public opinion of the two 
countries, it would not be very long before Congress and Parliament 
would agree that honesty is the best policy ; — and some diplomatic Ban- 
croft or Motley, or D'Israeli or Gladstone, would be as proud of nego- 
tiating a treaty to secure international literary rights, as to settle the 
limits of allegiance and the conditions of expatriation. 

Yours very truly, George William Curtis. 

From Dr. S. D. Gross, Philadelphia. . 

Jefferson Mbdioal College, ) 
Philadelphia, April 7th, 1868. t 
Gentlemen : 

I deeply regret that it will not be in my power to be with you on 
Thursday evening, to participate in the exercises of the proposed meet- 
ing in favor of the establishment of an International Copyright system. 
Such a system has long been a desideratum with Amerioan authors, not- 
withstanding what Mr. Carey and others may have said to the contrary ; 
and I sincerely hope that the appeal you are about to make to Congress 
may be crowned with success. Your efforts have my most cordial sym- 
pathy and good wishes. I trust that my own profession may be justly rep- 
resented at your meeting. It is high .time that American medical 
authorship should assert its rights, and endeavor to establish its claims 
as a legitimate branch of the general literature of the country. The works 



of Beck, Dunglison, Wood, Meigs, Hodge, Stille, Drake, Bedford, Hiret 
and Hamilton, not to mention others, some of them equally great, have 
created a world-wide reputation for their authors, and added lustue to 
the American nation. 

Our medical authors have had to contend with the same difficulties 
as our literary authors in general. If their works have succeeded it has 
been because of their intrinsic merits, despite the competition of foreign 
works, republished in the United States, and often sold for less than one- 
third of the price of the native productions ; without, in most cases, any 
substantial benefit to their authors. No one can doubt that this has been 
one of the great causes which have retarded the progress of American 
literature ; and I have sometimes, in view of this important, subject, re- 
gretted that we speak the same language as the people of Great Britain. 
With a language of our own we should have made much greater strides as 
a literary nation, although, it must be confessed, the masses might not 
have been as much enlightened as under the existing dispensation. 

I have the honor to be. Gentlemen, very respectfully, your friend and 
obedient servant, 

S. D. Gross. 

Prop. Agassiz, Cambridge, 

Has " the securing of an International Copyright very much at heart, 
not only upon the common ground of honesty, but as one great step in 
the progress of civilization, believing that a true interchange of intellec- 
tual property between the cultivated nations of the earth, will tend to 
raise all their mutual relations." 

A. S. Roe, East Windsor Hill, Conn. 

" I have long felt there was an unwarrantable use made of the prop- 
erty of authors on both sides of the Atlantic. Surely, if there is any spe- 
cies of property that a man can claim as his own — it is that which his 
own mind has produced. And I think no man who has ever written a 
work that has sustained itself for years in ihe hearts of his fellow men, 
but has accomplished the feat by an amount of manual labor and concen- 
trated thought, which could the world have witnessed, it would frankly 
acknowledge his claim to ownership. And I do not think such a man on 
either side the big water will be found arrayed with those who wish to 
deprive the laborer of his due. 

Of the ten works I have written, seven of them I know have been 
published in England. My first book, ' James Mountjoy, or I've been 


/ 1 



Thinking,' was taken as the leading book of the Eun and Read Library, 
and the three others as they came out. 

Mr. J. 0. Derby received from me from rival publishing firms for 
three of my works, $100 each for two^ apd $75 for one, which counts up 
in all $276, for works which have had a circulation there of over 100,000 
volumes — so that even five cents a volume would have been of some con- 

Authors, I believe, feel great delicacy in naming a value for their work, 
and shrink from trying to drive a bargain, and perhaps that may be the 
reason why in past ages they received such poor compensation. We have 
nothing to complain of in that respect in our day, except the lawlessness 
practised by individuals in England and our own country. I have lately 
heard that two different houses in London have advertised works under 
my name with the most ridiculous titles, and a gentleman in Philadelphia 
wrote to me to ascertain whether I was^ the author of those works — as he 
wished to have a correct list of what I had written. 

Now this is hardly fair play, first to use a man's works without pay, 
and then to use his name to cover that which the author's mind and heart 
would scorn to own." 

John G. Palfrey, Cambridge, Mass. 

" Something more than a quarter of a century ago, I set down my 
poor thoughts on the subject of an International Copyright law in the 
North American Review, of which I was editor (Vol. LV., pp. 246 et 
seq,). In that paper I think that there are some suggestions that de- 
serve attention, to the point that, apart from the question of honesty, 
the publishers, and the trades dependent upon them, misunderstand their 
own interest when they oppose a copyright law." 

J. T. Headlet, Newburgh, N. Y. 

^* I have not yet seen any argument against it (International Copy- 
right) that did not apply to the propriety of abolishing copyright alto- 
gether. But however persons may differ on this point, it seems strange 
to me that Congress does not perceive that all legislation which dis- 
criminates against a certain class is unjust. Now it places the inventor 
and author on the same footing at home, and by its laws protects both 
in the products of their mental labor ; yet, when it comes to legislate 
respecting them internationally, it protects the former and leaves the 
latter to be despoiled of his property." 


William Goodbll. 

" If copyright privileges stimulate, encourage, and protect investiga- 
tion, study and authorship at all, they do so in proportion to the extent 
to which they are rendered available and remunerative. If their benefits 
should not be limited by the boundary lines of the different States of the 
American Union, they should not be limited by the boundaries of the 
different nations of the civilized world. * • * The people of all nations 
have a common interest." 

Db. Dio Lewis, Lexington, Mass. 

" Certainly no species of property should be regarded as so personal 
and so sacred as that which is obtained, not by some lucky speculation 
or other accident, but by long, patient, and exhaustive personal labor." 

Dr. J. G. Holland, Springfield, Mass. (" Timothy Titcomb"). 

" I can conceive of no argument against International Copyright 
that does not ignore the right of an author to the work of his own brain 
and hand. * * * If it is desirable that America should have a liter- 
ature, then it is desirable that American authorship should be protected. 
* * * Perhaps not one American writer in fifty has received so large 
a sum for copyright during the last twelve years as I have. No matter 
whether my books are good or bad ; they have sold, and that is the only 
point essential to my argument. Now I assure you that I could never 
have written these books of mine, had I not had other sources of income ; 
for the proceeds to me have never paid my family expenses. * * * In the 
general interchange and diffusion of knowledge, and since copyright priv- 
ileges have hitherto promoted such interchange and diffusion in the most 
intelligent of the nations, it is reasonable to suppose that their further 
extension would be proportionately beneficial to the whole world. The 
tendencies of the age are strongly in the direction of universal inter- 
change of human thought. 

* * * An author may be conscious of possessing important truths, 
facts, and principles, that would be received with more attention and 
candor in another hemisphere than his own. He may hope, by influ- 
encing the leading minds, or the popular mind abroad, to reach ulti- 
mately, and more effectually, the public mind at home." 

James T. Fields, Publisher, Boston. 

" We have always been heartily in favor of the passage of an equi- 
table International Copyright Law, which shall protect the interests and 


secure the rights of authors on both sides of the Atlantic ; and we shall 
always do whatever may lie in our power to promote such a result." 

James W. Haepek, Publisher, New York. 

Fjeanklin Squaee, April 7th, 1868. 

Bear Sir^ — Mr. James Harper directs me to acknowledge the receipt 
of your favor of yesterday, and to say that his engagements will not 
allow him to avail himself of your polite invitation to attend the Copy- 
right meeting and serve as a Vice President. He desires me to thank 
you for your courtesy. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. W. Habper. 

Wm. Gilmorb Simms, Charleston, S. C. 

" The list of names on your Memorial could have been increased by 
every professional name in our State. * * * My own opinions were 
elaborately expressed long ago, in several successive papers in the South- 
ern Literary Messenger. These papers were held at the time by nu- 
merous men of letters — Mr. Bryant among them, to be exhaustive of the 
subject. I have seen no writing on the other side that was not sophis- 
tical, disingenuous, and in many particulars unqualifiedly false. I regret 
very much that I cannot be at your meeting." 

Rev. William R. Williams, D.D. 

27 Gbovb steeet. New Yoek, ) - 
Thursday, April 9, 1868. J 

Gentlemen^ — Unable, as I shall be, to attend the meeting called for 
this evening, I forward my signature to the Petition for a Law of Inter- 
national Copyright. 

JX would seem a plain dictate of equity, that, if the laborer be wor- 
thy of his hire, and of the bread won by the sweat of his brow, the 
writer, the designer, and the inventor must be quite as worthy of the 
bread which they have won by the more bitter sweat of the brain. Na- 
tional reciprocity implies the international recognition of mutual benefits, 
as bringing after them mutual obligations and rights. The great Apostle 
of the Gentiles preached a religion of freest grace and benignity. But 
he held it not inconsistent with this freeness, that those who received 
the unbought boon of " spiritual things," should hold themselves bound 
to impart to their teachers, as wages and rent, some share of their own 
temporal things (1 Corinth, ix. 11). Does not the Apostolate of Let- 


ters, Science, and Art, labor under the like law? It gives generously ; 
but expects from its beneficiaries some honest and grateful acknowledg'- 
ment of that generosity. Nor would it seem to be mercenary, in assert- 
ing this rightful claim, throughout those civilized communities which 
are reached by this its beneficent influence. Far as it blesses the race, 
so far it also binds them to the graceful and grateful recognition of the 
advantages received. " Nobleness binds " giver and taker. 

I remain, Grentlemen, yours very respectfully, 

William R. Williams. 

Henry C. Carey, Philadelphia. 

Gentlemen^ — Accept my thanks for the " Right of Copyright " just 
now received. Can you conveniently let me have three or four other 
copies, that I may, to that extent, aid in its circulation ? There are as 
many of my friends, who might not otherwise meet with it, that I would 
desire to place in a position to see what is the most that can be said on 
the opposite side. Perhaps, too, I might wish to enable them to judge 
how fairly my ideas are here presented. — As regards the decision at 
which our people must arrive, I have no fears whatever, provided only 
that they be enabled to see both sides of the question. 

Can you give me the name and publisher's name of the pamphlet 

just now published by one of my " disciples," and thereby oblige 

Yours, <Sz;c., 
Philadelphia, April 2, 1868. Henry C. Carey. 

William M. Blackburn. 

Tbenton, N. J., April 6, 1868. 

Dear Sir, — To me it seems clear that an author should be able to 
have a copyright in any country where his works are published. There 
is a way to obtain one, I believe, but there must be duplicate Mss., and 
a sort of underhand process — the one expensive, the other a trick There 
is something wrong in the law, when justice can be gained only by a 
sort of strategy. 

The objection to an International Copyright which I have heard 
most frequently urged, is that it will make costly literature, and that 
authors are the only ones who are to be benefited. Authors might ask 
if they are not interested in a cheap literature quite as much as any body 
else ? But are they to bear the whole exjpnse of cheapening the popu- 
lar literature ? Prohally flour would be at a more moderate price if the 
farmers would give away all the wheat that is exported from their own 


Not the justice^ but tlie policy of the movement will (as it seems to 

me) be made the hinge on which legislation will turn — that is, the policy 

in favor of the publishers who oppose the measure, and not the policy in 

behalf of the authors. The claim will, doubtless, be that the present law 

favors the people — an assumption that may be questioned. 

Wm. M. Blackburn. 

After the reading of the foregoing letters, 

The Chairman said, that before listening to the report of the Com- 
mittee appointed at the meeting of January 30th, he would like to make 
a few remarks, and spoke as follows : 


" We have come together, my friends, to consult on the means of giv- 
ing to our laws enacted for the security of literary property a character 
more worthy than the one they now bear of a great, just, and highly- 
civilized nation. We protect the goods of a traveller landing on our 
coast. We allow no man to strip him of his garments, to carry off his 
luggage, or take possession of the wares he has brought for sale, merely 
because he is a stranger. If we did that, we should be deservedly re- 
garded as having shamefully lapsed into barbarism. Yet by a singular 
inconsistency, while we have regulations which secure to our own citizens 
on our own soil their literary property, we have, nevertheless, so framed 
our laws that the foreigner is robbed of that property here and our own 
citizens plundered abroad. 

'^ I know that this complaint is met by some with a direct denial of 
the policy of protecting literary property. Let us bring this denial to a 
simple test. Let us suppose the copyright laws to be wholly repealed. 
Here is a man who has given the best years of his life to laborious historical 
research. He has produced a work destined to live, accurate and copi- 
ous in its facts^ admirable in arrangement, interesting in style. Or, per- 
haps, here is a man of science, who with equal toil has composed a work 
of great and 'decided utility. This author puts his work to press, and 
naturally expects the reward of his useful labors. In a day or two there 
comes out a reprint of his book by another publisher, which monopolizes 
the market, and prevents the sale of his own edition. Another man is 
enriched by his labors. The case needs only to be stated, and the state- 
ment is an argument of itself. Does not every body see that here is a 
rank injustice committed — ^a cruel wrong ? Can any thing be more 
mean, more base, more abhorrent to our notions of right ? Does not every 





noble and generous instinct in our bosoms tell us that the only corrective 
of this wrong is to decree by law that literary property shall be, like other 
property, inviolable ? 

" But it is again said that literature consists of ideas, and ideas are 
the common possession of all mankind, in which there can be no exclusive 
property. I readily grant that ideas are, in themselves, common stock, 
and yet I maintain the right of the author to his works. It is the form 
in which the ideas are put that is the author's property. Nor is this the 
only example of the kind. What is more the common property of all 
men than the waters of the ocean ? They belong to no one more than to 
another. Yet if I take a portion of them, and by my skill and diligence 
convert it into salt, the product is mine as incontestably as the watch in my 
pocket. In its original form it belonged to nobody ; in the form which I 
have given it, it belongs to me alone ; and he who appropriates it to himself 
without my permission, is a thief. 

". Thirty-six years since, I was for the first time in one of the forests 
of the Western States, in Illinois, then almost a wilderness. By my side 
stood a squatter, who directed my attention to a pile of straight trunks 
of trees, which had been cut down and the tops and branches lopped 
away. "* These trees,' he said, * have been felled by somebody for his own 
U!Be. This forest is the public domain ; nobody lays claim to it, and these 
trees belong to nobody in particular. But as soon as they are cut down, 
we recognize them as the property of him who took the trouble to fell 
them ; and if any person but he should take them, he would be disgraced 
and regarded as having stolen them.' I listened, and honored the squat- 
ters of Illinois for thus respecting the sacredness of property. 

'^ Let me apply these illustrations. The author of a book comes to 
the great ocean of human thought which belongs to all ; he dips up a 
portion of the brine, evaporates it, causes it to crystallize, purifies the 
crystals from unpleasant ingredients, and presents it in a new form, a 
form by which it is made his own. He enters the great forest of ideas, 
which is common ground, hews down trees, shapes them into articles of 
furniture, or builds a house with them, and he who takes from him that 
furniture is a thief, and he who breaks into that house is a burglar. 
The author clothes ideas in words of his own selection, forms the words 
into sentences of his own construction, gives the ideas his own arrange- 
ment, combines and illustrates them in his own manner, and in this state 
they are his own, made so by his labor, skill and invention, and they be- 
long as properly to him as the product of salt-works on the edge of the 
sea belongs to the manufacturer. 

" What is a promissory note but an idea— an idea put into a certain 
form of expression ? What is a bill of exchange, what is a bank note, but 


a form of words authenticated by a name, and the name is the mere sign 
of an idea ? Yet there is nothing to which the universal reverence for 
property more strongly attaches itself, and no kind of property which the 
law secures to its rightful owner with more vigilance and with sterner 
sanctions. He who makes too free "with ideas in this shape is delivered 
over to ignominftus punishment ; formerly, under a ruder administration 
of justice, his ears were cropped. 

^' The right of literary property being thus clearly established, and 
shown to rest on the same principles as all other property, it remains 
that we give it such equitable scope and application as shall vindicate 
our laws from the imputation of unjust partiality and a short-lighted de- 
votion to self-interest. We must so recognize the rights of those by 
whom this species of property is produced that neither shall the stranger 
be robbed here because he is a stranger, nor the American robbed in for« 
eign lands for the same reason. I hope to see the time when it will be 
held as disgraceful to counterfeit a man's book as to counterfeit his bill 
of exchange. You will hear this subject more ably discussed this even- 
ing than I can pretend to discuss it. It will be shown clearly that in 
this matter the equitable and the politic course are the same, and that in 
this instance, as in every other exercise of even-handed justice, the re- 
spect we pay to the rights of others will bring with it its own reward. '^ 

Mr. James Parton, of the Committee referred to by the Chairman, 
next made the following : 


At a meeting held January 30, 1868, at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, to 
consider the question of International Copyright, a committe of five was 
appointed to suggest a plan of operations for the friends of the measure, 
and, especially, to ascertain whether an international copyright could be 
secured by treaty, or required an act of Congress. This committee 
now beg leave respectfully to report. 

They directed their attention, first, to procuring the requisite pre- 
liminary information from Washington. Upon appplying to the Hon. 
Charles Sumner, the connmittee received the following reply : 

Senate Chambsb, lYth February, 1868. 

My dear Sir, 

Pardon my delay. 

There are two ways of dealing with the question of International 
Copyright ; one is by the treaty power, and the other is by reciprocal 

I have always thought that the former was the easiest ; but at the 
present moment the House of Representatives is not disposed to concede 
much to the treaty power. 

Mr. Everett, while Secretary of State, negotiated a treaty on this 



subject with Great Britain, which was submitted to the Senate, reported 
by the Committee on Foreign Kelations, considered in the Senate, and 
finally left on the table, without any definitive vote. 

I shall send you a copy of this treaty, which, I believe, has never seen 
the light. 

I have always been in favor of^an International Copyright, as justice 
to authors and a new stage in the unity of nations. Perhaps the condi- 
tion of public affairs at this time, the pre-oocupation of the public mind, 
the imminence of the Presidential election, and also the alienation from 
England, may present temporary obstacles. But I am sanguine that at 
last the victory will be won. If authors should have a copyright, they 
should have it everywhere within the limits of civilization. 

Accept my best wishes, and believe me, dear sir. 

Faithfully yours, Charles Sumner. 
James Parton, Esq., Secretary of the Committee. 

A copy of the treaty, negotiated by Mr. Everett and Mr. John F. 
Crampton, accompanied Mr. Sumner's letter. This treaty provided, that 
Authors, Artists, Designers, Engravers and Composers of Music, who 
were entitled to copyright in one country, should be entitled to it in the 
other, on the same terms and for the same length of time ; so that the 
piracy of an American work by an English publisher; or that of an Eng- 
lish work by an American publisher, entitled the author to the same re- 
dress as though the piracy had been perpetrated in his own country. 

This treaty was read in the Senate for the first time, February 24th, 
1853. It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, who re- 
ported it without amendment, March 15, 1853. On the 5th of April 
following, it was read a second time, considered in Committee of the 
Whole, and ordered to lie on the table, from which it was never taken. 

As the treaty provided that it should be ratified, if at all, within 
twelve months from the date of signature, which was February 7th, 
1853, the document has no longer any vitality, except as it does honor 
to the memory of the distinguished men whose names are appended to it. 

During the delay which occurred in procuring this information, the 
Committee were gratified to learn that an International Copyright bill 
had been introduced into the House of Representatives by the Hon. John 
D. Baldwin, of Massachusetts, Chairman of the Library Committee. 
They were the more gratified, because they desire the measure to have 
the sanction of both houses of Congress, as well as the approval of the 
public. An act of justice so advanced and refined as this, and involving 
benefits so numerous and fai>reaching, will be an honor to every nation 
concerned in it. It is desirable, therefore, that it should be, on the part 
of the United States, a national act, in which every branch of the Q-ov- 
ernmeut and the whole people shall concur. 

The bill presented by Mr. Baldwin is similar in design to the treaty 
of Mr. Everett, but contains additional provisions. The treaty of 1853 
contemplated only an arrangement between the United States and Great 
Britain ; but the pending bill aims to extend the system to all countries 
willing to participate in its advantages. 

Mr. Baldwin's bill, which was read twice in the House of Repre- 



sentativee, February 21st, 1868, and recommitted^ may now be consid- 
ered before the country for discussion and amendment. The members 
of the Library Committee, we are assured, desire to make the bill as 
satisfactory to parties immediately concerned as justice will permit. 

They wish to accomplish the object with as little disturbance to the 
established system, and with as little inconvenience to the book-trade 
and public, as possible. This meeting, therefore, has been convened for 
the purpose of further considering the subject, and giving both to the 
friends and opponents of the measure an opportunity to express their 
sentiments upon it. 

The Committee propose for the consideration of the meeting the fol- 
lowing resolutions : 

Resoked^ That Authors, Artists, Engravers, Designers, and Composers 
of Music should have legal right to permit, forbid, and control, abso- 
lutely and everywhere on earth, the multiplication and sale of copies of 
their works ; so that no copy of a book, essay, picture, statue, engraving, 
musical work, or design can rightfully exist anywhere, until the consent 
of the author thereto has been first manifested or obtained. 

Besohed, That the government of a country is bound to protect the 
property and rights of its citizens, wherever in the world those rights 
may be infringed, or their property plundered. 

Resohedy That since the leading nations of Europe have manifested 
in various ways, and at various times, their willingness to enter into an 
international arrangement for the reciprocal protection of the claims of 
authors and artists, we are, as a people, in fault for not having long ago 
responded to their desire, and joined them in such an arrangement. 

Resohedy That a just system of International Copyright, by render- 
ing the business of publishing books and works of art more stable, safe, 
and legitimate, will make it also more extensive and profitable, to the 
advantage of all who are concerned in the manufacture or sale of such 

Resohedy That while the present system tends to make bad books 
cheap, and good books dear, an International Copyright system will have 
the opposite tendency of making good books cheap and bad ones dear ; 
because it will afford to good books the market of the world, while in- 
ferior works, besides being confined to localities, will have to deal with a 
public always advancing in taste and knowledge. 

Resohedy That the bill now pending in the House of Eepresentatives, 
is substantially wise and right, though probably susceptible of additions 
and amendments ; and that the thanks of the friends of the measure are 
due to the Hon. John D, Baldwin, and his colleagues upon the Commit- 
tee, for their labors hitherto bestowed upon this important subject. 

Resohedy That an association be formed for the purpose of securing 
the rights of Authors and Publishers among the civilized nations of the 
earth, and persons desirous of cooperating are requested to enroll their 

George P. Putnam, 
S. Iren^us Prime, 
Henry Ivison, 
James Parton, 
Egbert Hasard. 




The Rev. S. iBENiEUs Prime moved the adoption of the foregoing 
resolutions, and said : 


Mb. Chairman : In rising to move the adoption of the resolutions just 
read, I wish to say that this is a movement in behalf of American authors, 
and American publishers who wish to do justice to all authors, native 
and foreign alike. It is not a cry for charity ; it is a demand iorjmtiee. 
It is not asking for privileges ; it is the assertion of rights. And as all 
rights have corresponding duties, it is the duty of government to secure 
authors' rights. 

In the year 1784, the year after our National Independence was rec- 
ognized by treaty with Great Britain, an English publisher seized upon 
Morse's Geography, an American copyright work of great literary and 
pecuniary value, and published it without recognition of the rights of the 
author, and without making him the least compensation. That system 
of piracy thus begun has been relentlessly pursued by the British, with a 
disregard of our rights which has justified the remonstrances of authors 
and publishers, and which they have bitterly and often complained of, 
these many years. It is true that Jonathan has now and then made repri- 
sals, and it is quite likely in this as in many other things he has beaten 
John Bull at his own game. But they have in the last eighty years taken 
1,500 of our copyright books and reprinted them without so much as 
saying " by your leave, sir." Is it strange that John Bull raises a great 
cry of " Stop thief?" Is it strange that he says if we will stop, he will, 
and we will have a mutual understanding, an International Copyright law 
that shall secure the rights of an author or publisher in foreign countries, 
as well as the rights of a merchant or planter ? 

If an author is the owner of the book he has made, or the composer 
has the right of property in the music his soul has sung and his hand has 
scored, or if the artist has such ownership in the landscape he has paint- 
ed that no other man has a right to make a copy of it without the author's 
consent, then the copyright question at home and abroad, everywhere, is 
settled. It is robbery to invade that right. N«w get down to the basis 
of the rights of property, and the author or inventor's title is as perfect 
and indefeasible as that of any other man to the fruit and reward of his 
labor. Webster says, *VNo right or title to a thing can be so perfect as 
that which is created by man's own labor and invention. The exclusive 
right of a man to his literary productions, and to the use of them for his 
own profit, is entire and perfect as the faculties employed and labor be- 
stowed are entirely and perfectly his own." 

But this self-evident proposition, this fact so simply true and palpa- 

DB. prime's bsmabes. 19 

bly just that a child can apprehend it, is actually and boldly denied in 
the interest of confederate wrong. A pamphlet has been recently pub- 
lished denying tbe right of property to an author, taking the ground that 
a copyright law is merely a privilege granted by society to an author, 
and to be resumed at its sovereign pleasure. '^ The man who makes a 
book " says Mr. Carey, " uses the common property of mankind, and all 
he furnishes is the workmanship. Society permits him to use its property, 
but it is on condition that after a certain time, the whole shall become 
part of the common stock." 

And again he says that an author is in the condition of a man who 
goes into another man's garden and picks flowers ; he may smell the bou- 
quet " for an hour or two," but it belongs to the owner of the garden ! 

And Mr. Carey says authors' right in the books they publish is pre- 
eisdy similar to, and no greater than^ that of the man who culls the flowers 
and arranges the bouquets." 

That is to say, authors have no rights at all. We all remember with 
what amazed indignation the civilized world received the dogma that 
black men have no rights which white men are bound to respect ; but 
Mr. Carey degrades the race of authors still lower, as I will now demon- 
strate. He says : 

" The day has passed in this country, for the recognition of 
either perpetuity or universality of literary rights. The wealthy 
Carolinian, anxious that books might be high in price, and knowing well 
that monopoly privileges were opposed to freedom, gladly co-operated 
with Eastern authors and publishers, anti-slavery as they professed to be. 
The enfranchised black on the contrary, desires that books may be cheap, 
and to that end he and his representatives will be found in all the future 
co-operating with the people of the Centre and the West in maintaining 
the doctrine that literary privileges exist in virtue of grants from the 
people who own the materials out of which books are made ; that those 
privileges have been perhaps already too far extended ; that there exists 
not even a shadow of reason for any further extension ; and that to 
grant what now is asked would be a positive wrong to the many millions 
of consumers, as well as an obstacle to be now placed in the road to- 
wards civilization." 

That is, authors have no rights which white or hlach men are bound to 
respect. .The doctrine is flagitious and immoral in the extreme. It is 
a disgrace to the civilization and Christianity even of this swindling age. 
It promises to enact iniquity by law. The author of the doctrine is up- 
right and honest, but his doctrine is neither ; sir, that doctrine would be 
laughed at by every intelligent and honest negro in the United States. 

When such doctrines are thrust forward to shield old abuses, and per- 
petuate hereditary wrongs, it is time that the enlightened moral sense of 


the country rose up, armed and strong to overthrow it. It is the old 
battle of right against might which is always being fought, and which 
you yourself, Mr. President, have told us, in immortal words, will by- 
and-by be won for truth. Millions of money are now ready to be spent 
in defeating this claim of authors to have justice ait the hands of their 
country. But on the other side is intelligence, virtue, and righteousness, 
which is peace and joy in the whole earth. 

The remarks of Mr. Bryant and Dr. Prime were heard with the 
closest interest and frequent applause. Francis Lieber, LL. D., 
was the next speaker, and made the following comprehensive presentation 
of the historical phases of the question before the meeting : 


Mr. Chairman : I beg to express my entire concurrence with the 
resolutions now before this meeting. My views and my convictions on 
a law of International Copyright agree with those expressed in the let- 
ters of the distinguished persons, which have been read to us. 

It is a fact worthy of notice that the objections now made to Inter- 
national Copyright, as you have seen from the extracts read by the Rev. 
Gentleman who preceded me, are the self-same objections which have been 
made each time the subject has been before Congress, and when Inter- 
national Copyright was first discussed iu Europe. It was so when Mr. 
Everett, as Secretary of State, endeavored to settle this question by 
treaty ; it was so when, in 1839 or 1840, 1 forget which. Senators Clay 
and William C. Proston, and other prominent men in Congress and out of 
it, among whom was Washington Irving, endeavored to obtain the same 
end by an Act of Congress, and when, let me add, several,'if I recollect, 
most of our conspicuous publishing houses were in favor of it, expressing 
their opinions then entertained in sundry petitions. It was so when the 
subject came to be discussed for the first time in history. At least it was 
the first time so far as I am acquainted with the history of this move in 
the progress of civilization. 

When unhappy Germany was hacked into petty sovereignties, an 
author or a publisher to whom an author had sold his manuscript, had 
to go begging for a copyright from sovereign to sovereign. It was thus 
that Schiller and Goethe were obliged first to publish their immortal 
works — Austria rarely, if ever, granting a copyright to a non- Austrian. 
After the restoration of Germany, such as it was, in 1815, an Inter- 
national Copyright between the German States came loudly to be called 
for, after the Act of Germanic Union had declared that a German Inter- 
national Copyright should be a fit subject for discussion and possible 

DB. liebeb's bemabes. 21 

> * 

legislation of the confederacy, Prussia took the initiative. Judge 
Hitzig of the Supreme Court of the kingdom was consulted. He had 
been thrown out of his judicial career, when, by the issue of the battle 
of Jena, Prussia was reduced well-nigh to a political nullity. Hitzig, 
to support himself, became bookseller. After the restoration of Prussia 
he received an appointment on the supreme bench, and as I have stated 
be was consulted concerning the new copyright. The Austrian booksellers 
raised an almost unanimous cry against it. Austria, the least prominent 
of German States in literary production, had long made a pretty good 
profit upon pirated editions of German classics, and was unwilling to give 
up this fine trade. The writers against the proposed International Copy- 
right used then the reasons in favofr of bibliopolic buccaneering, which 
are used now. They may be reduced to two heads. It is maintained 
that there is no such thing as literary property. What is called so is 
simply the effect of laws, judiciously or injudiciously enacted ; it is an 
arbitrary creature of the law ; and secondly, expediency leads us to pre- 
vent an International Copyright. Let us have books as cheap as possible. 

The chief value of the latter reason depends on the first; for if 
there is such a thing as a right of real property in literary productions, 
as natural and direct as there is in a bushel of wheat for the farmer, if 
he is the producer, the argument founded on expediency, even if this 
could be made good, would have no more value than a recommendation 
of obtaining flour cheaper by stealing, than by honestly purchasing it. 
Right and wrong are not defined or confined by the blue or red colors 
of political demarcations on the map, any more than that they apply to 
religion, or mathematics, or music. Nay, allow a teacher of the law of 
nations to say that it is one of the characteristics of our progressive 
civilization, that as it advances, it takes more and more from the mean- 
ing of the colors of the map, reducing them more and more to a political 
meaning alone. 

Is there such a thing as literary property ? The main roots of all 
property whatsoever are appropriation and production, diffused and accu- 
mulated by exchange. Why ? Is it, because, as the ssiying used to be, 
property is the creature of Government ? By no means. Property inva^ 
riably precedes government, as many other institutions do. It is because 
every human being is as conscious as of his own identity, that if he ap- 
propriates what belongs to no one — ^for instance, the trunk of a tree — and 
if he produces a new thing — ^for instance a canoe out of that tree — this 
appropriation, or this product, is verily his own ; that he can do with 
it what he likes, and that every one who in turn attempts to appropriate 
it without the process of exchange, is an intruder, a robber, and the at- 
tempt will not only be resbted but resented. The whole right of prop- 


erty, however developed and ramified in. a code of laws it may be, rests 
on this primordial consciousness of mine and thine — on appropriation 
and production ; and I now appeal to the intuitive conviction of every 
living man to say whether a literary work, say Baker's description of 
his toilsome journeys in Africa, or a Faust of Goethe, a musical composi- 
tion, say a requiem by Mozart, is not a production in the fullest sense 
of the word, even more so than a barrel of herrings which have been ap- 
propriated in the North Sea, pickled and barrelled by the fisherman ; 
and whether any one has a right to meddle with this property by produc- 
tion, any more than you or I have to meddle with the barrel of herrings. 

But, say our opponents, that which you call the literary work con- 
sists of ideas which were common property, gathered, strung together. 
They belong to the common civilization, and cannot constitute property. 
Indeed ! why not go further ? The alphabet used in every book is com- 
mon property ; the words of which it consists have been published long 
ago in dictionaries. 

We do not claim property in ideas, any more than Beethoven claimed 
property in the tones he indicated, or the laws of harmony and dis- 
harmony which the Creator has indelibly implanted in the human soul ; 
but he justly claimed by natural right the ownership of his symphonies, 
and, therefore, the exclusive right of multiplying them by signs and on 
material. He deeply resented their piratical reprint. 

An author, or a composer, or an artist is what he is, in a very great 
measure indeed, in consequence of the civilization of his times or of the 
ideas which, erroneously and inelegantly, are declared common property; 
but is the farmer what he is, less by the common civilization in which 
his existence has fallen ? Does the farmer, perchance, create his grain, 
or does he only produce, that is, dispose his combining and shaping 
agency so that with the help of the natural agents his labor results in, 
the grain ? His share in agricultural production is small, indeed, com- 
pared to the share which the author, or composer, or sculptor has in the 
production of his work. But the question is really more positively and 
directly answered by asking : Do you, or do you not, feel and know that 
Paradise Lost was Milton's own, and that in the world of exchange to 
which, by divine decree, all of us must go for subsistence, he had an ex- 
clusive right to dispose of his work ? 

If literary property is merely a thing so called ; if there is no natural 
right of literary property, why does our law and the municipal law of 
every civilized country acknowledge and protect it in each respective 
country ? There is no exception to it. And if literary property is real 
property, why not acknowledge and protect it internationally, as all 
righteous property is ? 

DR. lieber's remarks. 23 

To the objection that literary property is of a very recent date, which 
is said to prove that, like the patent law, it is altogether a legal inven- 
tion, and originates from no natural right, I would simply reply that liter- 
ary property was claimed as soon as it obtained importance in the market, 
that is, immediately after the invention of the art of printing. There 
is a passage in the works of Dr. Martin Luther,* in which he asks the 
" Sirs Printers " why they rob one another, and make money of what be- 
longs to another, leaving only loss and dissatisfaction to him who incurred 
all the expenses in order to get out a book ; and it will be remem- 
bered how short a time there clasped between the humanizing inven- 
tion of the art of printing and the great translation of the Bible by 
one man — ^Martin Luther. As to International Copyright, it belongs 
to our century indeed; but the whole law of nations has made its 
greatest strides only in recent times. Down to this century, the 
highest statesmanship was believed to consist in the greatest amount of 
injury that could be done to a neighbor. The barbarous confusion of 
foreigner and enemy still somewhat adhered to our race. Now it is 
gladly acknowledged in the commonwealth of nations to which we be- 
long that the great law of good neighborhood, all-important among in- 
dividuals, is not less so among nations, and the existing positive law of 
nations shows us that treaties are in force between Germany, France, 
England, Italy, internationally protecting literary and sesthetical copy- 
right. Why should we lag behind ? We, whose boast it is to honor 
and protect human rights with eager jealousy, should we, of all leading 
nations, disregard the right of property, because the owner is a foreigner ? 
In these very days the German parliament has passed an instruction to 
the imperial chancellor. Count Bismarck, to exert himself that treaties be 
concluded between Germany and the different foreign powers which shall 
protect all private property, even belonging to belligerents at sea, against 
seizure. There has already once existed a treaty of a similar effect be- 
tween the United States and Prussia. It were well if Germany and our 
country would renew this treaty. It would be a stride indeed in the 
career of civilization ; but would it not be well at once to do the plainer 
justice of passing the International Copyright bill now before Congress ? 
I call upon every one to do what may lie in his power toward the pro- 
motion of this object. 

We are here necessarily restricted in the time during which we may 
address this audience, and I see that I must leave to others to descant 
on the expediency of an international copyright. I ask you only to let 

^ This passage is given in a pamphlet oq International Copyright by the speaker, 
published in 1840, by Wiley & Putnam, New York. 



me add this unqualified declaration, that so far as my inquiry and obser- 
vation have gone — and it is ample, and dates far back — I have found that 
almost without an exception all men of fairness and judgment, free 
from real or supposed business interests, unhesitatingly pronounce them- 
selves in favor of not limiting the validity of the eighth commandment 
by Colton's colors, and that my conviction is that in this sphere, as in 
every other, it will be found that honesty is the best policy, I am far 
from presenting to you foreign authors as the poor benefsictors who must 
be protected. The enervating trash which we receive is boundless, but 
on the one hand, is the protection of property ever measured by the 
degree of direct good it does? and, on the other hand, it is ourselves, 
too, that insist on International Copyright for our own benefit or as a 
thing due to us. 

- Let us by all means support our representatives who are ready to do 
all they can towards the passage of an American Copyright Act. 

The Rev. Samuel Osgood, D. D. followed Prof. Lieber, and dis- 
cussed " The Unity of Nations and its Bearing upon Letters," in 
language of which we ^ve a general outline. 


]>r. Osgood said that he consented to speak in order to comply with 
the request of friends, rather than from any ability or knowledge on his 
part that entitled him to treat so important a subject as the intemaUonal 
rights of authors. He was glad, however, in the branch of the topic as- 
signed to him, and could say a few words heartily upon the unity of 
nations in its relation to authors. 

There can be no doubt of the fact, that nations are coming together 
as never before, and that what Goldwin Smith calls the commonwealth 
of mankind is evolving itself throughout the civilized world, and even 
invading pagan lands with its mighty missionary power of industry, sci- 
ence and art. It already had two universal languages, — ^those of music, 
and mathematics, — and the musical scale and the multiplication table were 
known and understood throughout the globe. Literature is rising into 
the same universality and carrying its name and its calculations into all 
lands, and with the help of the photographer and the engineer, it is ex- 
pounding the secret of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and speaking a new pic- 
torial tongue to the eyes of all mankind. 

The important question rises, what bearing is this universality of 
communication to have upon the individual rights of authors ? Is the 
whole of the reading public to be sacrificed to the part of authors, or is 


the part to be sacrificed to the whole, or are the whole and the part to be 
bound together by mutual obligation and service ? The laborer is worthy 
of his hire, in all vineyards, and good wages should bring good work and 
the welfare of laborer and employer, producer and consumer. It is utter 
folly to say that literary work shall not be paid for by all who have its 
productions, and it is equal folly to maintain that the literary workman 
shall work for himself and shut the great world out from a fair share of 
the fruits of his labors. The author should be paid for hb personal la- 
bor, time, capital and talent, yet he must expect to have his ideas pass 
into the common stock of human thought, and no more think to keep 
great truths to himself as private property because he has ably stated 
tiiem, than Newton should claim the law of gravitation as his private 
property, because he first stated it in its scientific form, and identified it 
with his own name. Give the author the right to the sale of his own 
works wherever published, and the great human mind will soon appropri- 
ate all that is of universal worth, and make it portion of the common 
stock of knowledge. So the author gets his due, and humanity keeps its 
birthright of reason and liberty. 

The laws of trade efibctually confirm this sound principle of philoso- 
phy, and secure the rights of the author and also the liberty of the public. 
All excessive charges and arbitrary restrictions in behalf of copyright are 
foolish as well as wrong, and it is proved that a moderate perq^tage on 
liberal terms is better for all parties than any extortion on the part of 
publisher or author. Large sales with moderate profits iir the rule of 
modem business, and ten or fifteen per cent, on copyright brings an author 
more money as well as fame than fifty or sixty per cent. Perhaps it 
would be a gain to a popular author like Dickens to charge only a very 
small percentage on the sale of his works in America, should the liberty 
be given him to have his dues and discount returns from all publishers 
of his charming books. The cheaper the publication within the limits 
of reason, the greater the sales and the larger the profits. 

It will be found that a better order of books will be published if 
authors are sure of having the whole market for the sale of their n^ ducts. 
Certain works of speculative genius or scientific depth need th .eaders 
from all nations to secure a paying return, and England o^ merica is 
too small sometimes to defray the expense of publishing a jrk of first- 
class merit. England nearly starved out that masterly t^ jker Herbert 
Spencer, and not the justice of America, but the genero^^ y of Americans, 
came to his rescue and enabled him to go on with this enterprise. I see 
here to-night the author of a great Church history that ought to make him 
independent, and if Dr. Schaff had his due from all Christendom who read 
him, he would have money to lend as well as to live upon, instead of being 


probably limited mainly to bis salary as theological teacber. I have been 
asked to translate and publish Rothe's great work on Theological Ethics, 
the greatest book of onr time on that subject, but if I had the time and 
learning for the task, the sale of three volumes in America would not 
pay me a dollar a day for my labor, or keep soul and body together. 
Let all the readers of the best class of books contribute together to com- 
pensate authors, and a higher grade of literature would appear, and re- 
searches that can now be pursued only by men of fortune like Prescott, 
Bancroft, and their peefs, would be open to all men of adequate ability 
whom publishers could assure of a sufficient market for their works, and 
enable them to prepare for the task. 

Dr. Osgood thought that society at large would be the gainer by al- 
lowing men of letters to have the fair profit of their works. Mind is 
more than money, yet money is a very nice thing for mind to have at its 
command. There was a good deal of meaning in the act of the poor parson 
who borrowed ten dollars every Saturday night, and handed it back every 
Monday morning, and when asked why he borrowed money that he did not 
use, replied that he liked to know that he had the money in his pocket 
while he was preaching, for it made him feel more like a man to have it 
there. It would be well to give Brains the means of meeting Bullion on 
a more equal footing in the world, and while many of our moneyed men 
had a liberal spirit, as a class they were too narrow and domineering, and 
would be much improved by the influence of a class of men of letters with 
culture, and &me, and also the income to enable them to dispense a gen- 
erous and refined hospitality, in homes open to genuine worth, above the 
rule of caste and the dynasty of dollars. 

He ended by wishing for the day when literature, which is the most 
generous and humane of arts, should be freed from the piracy that has been 
driven from all other spheres, and our motto should be ** Fair Trade and 
Author's Rights." 


was here called upon, and, taking the platform, made a most e£fectivo 
and characteristic speech, in which he reviewed the right and wrong 
of the question, and with good-humored satire exposed the fal- 
lacies and selfishness of the various pleas set forth by the opponents 
of International Copyright. Mr. Greeley's remarks greatly enlivened 
the meeting, and it is a matter of regret that they were not reported 
for publication. 

The Rev. Philip Sghaff, D.D,, was the final speaker. His remarks 
were brief and to the point. 

DR. sohaff's remarks. 27 


Three arguments may be urged in favor of an International Copy- 
right, — a material, a legal, and a moral, or interest, justice, and honor. 
I would place the first lowest and the last highest. 

Literature, it must be admitted, is no ordinary merchandise. Like 
virtue, it carries in itself the best reward. When it is cultivated from 
mercenary motives, it loses its moral force. The greatest authors died 
poor, and yet made many rich, and enjoy the gratitude of posterity in 
proportion to the disinterestedness of their labor. An author writes from 
a free impulse for the purpose of spreading truth and useful information 
among his fellow-men. He seeks first of all the kingdom of truth. For 
my own part, I feel grateful to foreign publishers and translators for ex- 
tending my sphere of usefulness by the republication of half a dozen of 
my works, although I derived no benefit from them, except from German 
publishers in three or four cases. It is better for the world that a good 
book should be reproduced in foreign lands and tongues, without profit 
to the author, than that it should be confined to his own country. 

Nevertheless, " the laborer is worthy of his hire," and this applies to 
mental as well as physical labor. Literary property, next to moral 
character, is the highest kind of property. And if the right to literary 
property holds good anywhere, it holds good everywhere within the 
bounds of civilization, subject only to such limitations as the interests of 
civilization require. This principle is now universally conceded in Eu- 
rope. We acknowledge it ourselves as far as our own country is con- 
cerned. Why should we any longer refuse to extend it ta other coun- 
tries ? The very first object of government is to* protect the rights of 
person and property, as far as its influence extends. 

But I would urge mainly the consideration of national honor. We 
do ourselves great injustice as long as we deny to foreign authors and 
publishers what we would have them do to our own. It is mortifying to 
our pride and just self-respect to hear our publishers so often denounced 
abroad as a set of literary pirates. American pubUshers, as a class, are 
as honorable and highminded men as any on the globe. But the whole 
profession is unjustly made to sufier from the absence of a law that would 
effectually shield them against reproach and calumny, as well as against 
the temptation to take advantage of the absence of such a law. 

Our government then owes it to its own dignity, to the reputation 
and higher interests of our authors and publishers, and to the claims of 
modem civilization, to enact an International Copyright. Let it lose 
no time to enter, either by treaty or reciprocal legislation, into an ar- 
rangement similar to the one which already exists between England, 


Germany, and France. If literature is the true glory of a country, then 
we have a right to demand from our government to be the foremost in 
esltending the protection of its laws to the cause of letters and arts. 
Then we may expect a literature to grow up in this country that shall 
answer to the vast expanse of our territory from ocean to ocean, the 
genius of our institutions, and the noble destiny of our nation as the cen- 
tral and most universal nation on earth. 

The resolutions presented by Mr. Farton were here unanimously 
adopted, and the following agreement was presented for signatures to 
those present, and received a large number of names : 


We, the undersigned, agree to unite in a Copyright Association, for 
the protection and advancement of Literature and Art, and the commit- 
tee in charge of the present meeting are requested to call an early con- 
vention of enrolled members. 

It was stated that this agreement would remain open for signatures 

at the office of Mr. Putnam, No. 661 Broadway, and the meeting then 


Edmund C. Stedman, 

Secretary of the Meeting. 




[From PutnamCa Monthly Magazine, for May, 1868.] 

1. Proudhon's motto was, " Property is robbery." He denied the 
right of property. All things, in his view, belong to all men in common. 
The earth, the air, fire, water, the natural forces, all sources of wealth, 
are common stock, and the results of their use are the universal heritage 
of mankind. 

2. H. 0. Carey has promulgated a theory of copyright substantially 
on the same basis. Ideas are Qie common property of mankind. Facts 
are everybody's facts. Words are free to all men. He says : " Exam- 
ine Macaulay's JZi9^<^y of Unghnd^ and you will find that the body is 
composed of what is common property." He says the same of Prescott, 
Bancroft and Webster : " They did nothing but reproduce ideas that 
were common property." Of Scott and Irving he says, they " made no 
contribution to knowledge. 

3. Therefore, the author of a book has no right of property in the 
book he has made. He took the common stock and worked it over ; 
and one man has just as good a right to it as another. A law to give 
an author the exclusive control of his book is not founded in justice. 
The public are deprived of their rights, if the author is allowed to be 
the owner of his own works. Property in books is robbery, 

4. There is no substantial difference between the Proudhon theory 
of no property^ and the Carey theory of no property in hooJcs. The first 
breaks down all business ; the second destroys all business in books. If 
Smith shall have the same right with Jones to the house Jones builds, Jones 
will not be apt to build houses. If Carey has the same right to Motley's 
*^ History '' that Motley has. Motley will not be inclined to write histo- 
ries for Carey. 

A disciple of Carey has recently put forth a pamphlet, in which he 
takes the position that '^ the word property is only applicable to material 
substances ;" and a *^ person's ideas or thoughts are his intellectual prop- 
erty only so long as they remain unuttered, and unknown to others." 
It is a reproach upon our country, and upon the Christianity of our age, 
that a doctrine like this is avowed by any civilized man among us. 
Noah Webster defines the word thus : 

Property. — The exclusive right of possessing, enjoying, and disposing 
of a thing ; ownership. Prior occupancy of land and of wild animals. 




gives to the possessor the property of them. The labor of inventing, 
making, or producing anything, constitutes one of the highest and most 
indefeasible titles of property. 

And that no possible misunderstanding may arise as the meaning, be 
defines again : 

Literary Property, — No right or title to a thing can be so perfect as 
that which is created by a man's own labor and invention. The exclu- 
sive right of a man to his literary productions, and to the use of them 
for his own profit, is entire and perfect, as the faculties employed and 
labor bestowed are entirely and perfectly his own. On what principle, 
then, can a legislature or court determine that an author can enjoy only 
a temporart/ property in his own productions? If a man's right to his 
own property in writing is as perfect as to the productionB of his farm, or 
his shop, how can the former be abridged or limited, while the latter is 
held without limitations ? Why do the productions of manual labor 
reach higher in the scale of rights of property than the production of 
the intellect ? 

5. Civilized society has recognized the right of property in all ages 
and lands, even independently of the eighth and tenth commandments. 
The right of an author to the fruit of his labor and intellect is as per- 
fect and indefeasible as the right of the farmer to his crop. Common 
materials are employed by men of all pursuits, but whatever each man's « 
industry, genius, or skill produces is his own^ his property ; and he who 
takes it from him without his consent, or uses it against his will, is a 
thief and a robber. This is the essence of property in an invention, 
or a photograph, or a map, or a book. 

6. Therefore, law shields an author by a copyriyht, and all persons are 
restrained from publishing his works without his consent. The historian 
composes his history, and has an exclusive riyht to it. The poet owns 
his own poem. The dramatist owns the drama that he writes. The au- 
thor has law to shield him as^ainst robbery, as the merchant or farmer 
ha«. This right is not a coLession by society to the author, aa Mr. 
Carey says it is. The right is absolute and intrinsic as any other right 
recognized among men. 

7. Limiting the time during which this right of the author shall con- 
tinue to be recognized by law, is an error arising from the confusion of 
ideas as to the nature of the right. The right being perfect, and all 
rights and duties being reciprocal, it is the duty of government to make 
their protection co-extensive 'with the right, which is perpetual. When 
it is made legal for a man to live rent free in a house after he has paid 
rent for it twenty-eight years, or to have a newspaper for nothing when 
he has been a paying subscriber forty years, tnen, but not till then, 
should authors be deprived of their property, after the public has paid 
for the use of it a limited number of years. 

8. American authors have a just claim upon their government for 
such legislation as will enable them to enjoy the benefit of their works, 
when they are wanted in foreign countries. Such protection requires 
reciprocity ; and if it be just to American authors to secure their rights 
in foreign lands, it is right and necessary that foreign authors have cor- 
responding protection in the United States. 

9. An International Copyright law is, therefore, simple justice 


between man and man. The author's moral right being perfect, as the 
right of any .other person to his property, government is bound to make 
the legal right commensurate therewith. Unless we make war upon all 
property, and abolish the distinctions of meum and tuum altogether, we 
must admit the duty of governments to secure the rights of authors in 
their property at home and abroad. And as law protects the American 
merchants' gold in London, so should law, by reciprocal legislation, 
make the author's right to his property equally secure. 

10. The slave trade, once regarded as a moral and respectable 
traffic, was prosecuted by the best men in the Church and world. 

Lotteries were once legal and reputable, and the government, church- 
es, schools, and individuals participated in their profits without scruple. 

Now the slave trade is justly punished as piracy, and lotteries as 
gambling and robbery. But the slave trade and lottery are now no 
more in reality offensive to good morals than they were when both 
flourished under the wing of the Church and the State. The public 
conscience having been enlightened and quickened, it is now a subject 
for wonder that honest and honorable men were ever engaged in either. 
It is hardly credible, but it is true, that the good people of Newport, 
Bhode Island, had twelve ships trading at one time with Cuba and Su- 
rinam, ^' bringing molasses to be distilled into New England rum, which 
^as sent to Africa in exchange for negro slaves." 

When the public conscience is awakened to the right of authors in 
their works, the Carey theory will be looked upon by all conscientious 
persons as flagitious and immoral as Proudhon's doctrine or the New- 
port trade in rum and negroes. 

Then government will not suffer its people to plunder a foreign au- 
thor, nor allow its own authors to be plundered in foreign lands ; and 
then no honest publisher will violate the right of an author, whether the 
law shields him or not. 

11. It is always for the interest of individuals and communities, in 
the long run, to do right ; It never is for their interest to do wrong. In 
this case the interests of the publisher, the printer, the paper-maker, and 
the reader, are promoted by doing justly by the author. The par- 
tial protection of an author's rights which the law now gives is 
a powerful stimulant to literary laborer. Literature cannot be a 
profession without it. Men will not plant orchards, if the fruit is 
free to all comers. Men will not devote their lives to making books 
unless they can live by it. The Copyright Law gives them this 
security. And an International Copyright law would add a mar- 
ket, in many millions of people, to that now enjoyed by American 
authors. This encouragement would enhance the production in pro- 
portion to the new demand. The amount of British literature offered 
to our market would be vastly increased; and American authorship, 
protected throughout the realms of the English language, would hasten 
to win the same triumphs that American genius has achieved in the 
mechanical arts. The healthful competition in the manufacture of 
books thus stimulated would keep down the prices to the lowest remu- 
nerative point, and the extended field would furnish a demand for books 
so vast as to require all the energies of our book trade to supply. 

In this case, as always, '' Honesty is the best policy." And degrading 


as it it is to appeal to such a sentiment where the right is so palpable, 
we may rejoice in the fact that the interests of publishers and readers 
are here identical with the rights of authors. 

i Note — hy a Publisher, 

* One of the most specious and effective arguments reiterated against 
international justice in this matter, is the statement that, if British au- 
thors are paid for the use of their books in this country, an enormous 
addition will be made to the price of the books — that we shall have to 
pay the price of new books in England — a guinea and a half for a 
novel, &c., &c. 

The fallacy, not to say dishonesty, of this statement, may be readily 
shown by any intelligent and candid publisher. 

The copyright of an English book being vested in an American 
citizen, and the book being manufactured in this country (as Mr. Bald- 
win's bill proposes), it will be for the selfish interest of the publisher to 
adapt the book te the taste and means of the largest number of pur- 
chasers — in just the same way as he would manage a book by the Amer- 
ican author. 

When it is evident that the sale of five thousand, ten thousand, or 
fifty thousand copies at a dollar will "jpeiy" better than five hundred 
copies at five dollars, the publisher's polict/ is self-evident. His interests 
are identified, both with those of the author and with those of the great 
mass of readers. To illustrate this obvious truth, it is sufficient to 
mention the last new and notable copyright book — ^Beecher's " Nor- 
wood." It was competent for Mr, Bonner, owner of the copyright, 
or the monopoly, and Mr. Scribner, the publisher, te determine that 
the price of the book shall be three or five dollars, and nobody could 
say nay. What do they do ? They voluntarily and wisely sell it 
for a doUaf and a half — a less price actually than is now a^ed for 
most reprinted books of the same size which pay no copyright ; and 
yet the author in this case is not merely justly, but very liberally 
compensated. The publisher makes the book at a moderate price, 
because he makes more money by doing so. 

Again : it is the publisher's obvious policy now, and it would con- 
tinue to be, under an international law, to adapt his books to the market. 
If there is a call for fine editions as well as cheap ones, he will make 
those also. Another copyright-book may be mentioned — "Irving's 
Sketch Book." The publisher finds it expedient to make an edition of 
this at twenty dollars per copy ; but he offers the buyer, at the same 
moment, other editions of the same book, at ten dollars, at two dollars, 
and at seventy-five cents. Each of these, observe, is a copyright-book, 
and the author's part is the same. These specimens illustrate a general 

Suppose an international law should cause a slight increase of price 
in order that the author may be compensated : will the reader grudge 

But the payment by the publisher of five or ten per cent, or of a 
fixed sum, for the copyright of a book, whether by an American or a 
British author, under the proposed law, does not necessarily increase the 





price of a book. It is not so mach a tax on the purchaser as it is a 
premium paid by the publisher for greater security to property in which 
he invests money for himself and his children. 

This security, as Mr. Baldwin shows in his report, will inure .to the 
benefit rather than the injury of all classes of readers, as well as of au- 
thor and publisher. 



New Yoek, May 8th, 1868. 
My Dear Sir: 

Agreeably to your suggestion I will endeavor to help the good work 
you have in hand by copying out for "your pamphlet some of the reasons 
of Lord Mansfield, on the subject of literary property, in the very cele- 
brated case of Millar vs. Taylor (4 Burrows Rep. p. 2,396), decided in 
1769. I have always thought that his masterly treatment of the subject 
should be the " text " of all writers who treat upon it. It is based on the 
injimutable principles of justice and defies the tooth of time. The reason- 
ing of this decision is very full and elaborate, and I think, to every lawyer 
at least, quite conclusive. I shall omit all the technical and most of. the 
legal arguments in the epitome I present, as not within the scope of this 
communication, and confine my humble labors to a summary of the 
more general and abstract views. The case arose upon the claim of one 
Millar, a publisher, who had purchased of the author, Thomson, the copy- 
right of the poem " The Seasons." After the expiration of the term 
limited by the statute of Anne, one Taylor published an edition if- the 
poem without Millar's consent. Millar claimed a perpetxial copyright in 
the poem, and brought this suit to recover damages. 

Lord Mansfield said : ^^ I use the word copy in the technical sense, to 
signify an incorporeal right to the sole printing and publishing of somewhat 
intellectual, communicated by letters." ** No disposition^ no transfer of pa- 
per upon which the composition is written, marked, or pressed (though it 
givea the power to print and publish), can be construed a conveyance rf the 
copy without the author's express consent to Sprint and publish,^ much less 
against his will. The property of the copy thm narrowed^ may equally go 
down from generation to generation, and possibly continue forever; 
though neither the author nor his representatives should have any manu- 
script whatsoever of the work, original, duplicate, or transcript." 

" Mr. Gwynn was entitled undoubtedly to the paper of the transcript 
of Lord Clarendon's history, which gave him the power to print and pub- 
lish. This might have been the only manuscript of it in being. Mr. 
Grwynn might have thrown it into the fire had he pleased. But at the 
distance of nearly a hundred years the copy was adjudged the property 
of Lord Clarendon's representatives." 

" If the copy belongs to an author after publication, it certainly belong- 
ed to him before. All the metaphysical subtleties from the nature of 
the thing, may be equally objected to the property before. It is incor- 
poreal: it relates to ideas detached from physical existence. There are 


indicia ; another may have the same thoughts upon the same subject, and 
expressed them in the same language verbatim. At what time and by 
what act does the property commence ? The same string of questions 
may be asked upon the copy before publication." 

" From what aouree, then, is the common law drawn, which is admitted 
to be clear in respect of the copy before publication ? " " Because it is j'tsst 
that an author should reap the pecuniary profits of his own ingenuity and 
labor. It is jmt that another should not use his name without his con- 
sent. It is fit that he should judge when to publish or whether he will 
ever publish. It is fit he should not only choose the time but the man- 
ner of publication, how many, what volume, what print. It is fit he 
should choose to whose care he will trust the accuracy and correctness 
of the impression ; to whose honesty he will confide not to foist in addi- 
tions." These are " sufficient to show it is agreeable to the principles of 
right and wrong, the fitness of things, convenience and policy, to protect 
the copy before plublication. But the same reasons hold after the author 
has published. He can reap no pecuniary profit if, the next moment 
after his work comes out, it may be pirated upon worse paper, and in 
worse print, and in a cheaper volume. The author may not only be de- 
prived of any profit, but lose the expense he has been at. He is no more 
master of the use of his own fiame. He has no control over the correct- 
ness of his own work. He cannot prevent additions. He cannot retract 
errors. He cannot amend or cancel a faulty edition. Any one may print, 
pirate and perpetuate the imperfections, to the disgrace and against the 
will of the author ; may propagate sentiments under his name which he 
disapproves, repents and is ashamed of He can exercise no discretion as 
to the manner in which or the persons by whom his work shall be pub- 
lished." " All the objections, which hold as much to the kind of property 
before as to the kind of property after publication, go for nothing ; they 
prove too much. There is no peculiar objection to the property after ex- 
cept ' that the copy is necessarily made common after the book is published.' 
Does a transfer of paper upon which it is printed necessarily transfer tte 
copy more than the transfer of paper upon which it is written ? The 
argument turns in a circle. ^ The copy is made common because the 
law does not protect it ; and the law cannot protect it because it is made 
common.' The author does not mean to make it common ; and if the 
law says ' he ought to have the copy after publication,' it is a several 
property, easily protected, ascertained and secured. The whole then 
must finally resolve in this question, ' Whether it is agreeable to natural 
principles, moral justice and fitness, to allow him the copy after publica- 
tion as well as before,'' The general consent of this kingdom for ages is 
on the affirmatvoe side. The legislative authority has taken it for granted j 
and mter^^oaedi penalties to protect it for a time?"* 

^^ The single opinion of such a man as Milton, speaking after much 
consideration upon the very point, is stronger than any inferences from 
gathering acorns and seizing a vacant piece of ground ; when the writers, 
so far from thinking of the very point| speak of an imaginary state of 
nature before the invention of letters." 

After numerous other illustrations and legal arguments, Lord Mans- 
field finally decides there is a legal property in authors, independent of 
the statute of Anne, or any thing done in conformity with it. Unfor- 




tunately for the welfare of mankind, this jast doctrine was overturned in 
the House of Lords, in 1774, by the case of Donaldsons vs. Beckets. The 
vote was 22 to 11 ; the judges or " law lords " nearly all voting in the 
minority. This irreparable damage to the cause of learning and liter- 
ature was chiefly owing to the sophistical declaration of Lord Camden ; 
and the enemies of International Copyright from that time have done little 
but repeat his arguments. Their mischievous success is their chief title 
to respectful consideration. 

Very respectfully, yours, &c.. 

To George P. Putijam. Albert Mathews. 



Simply, of itself, oould there be a clearer, plainer matter than this 
one of copyright ? A man invents, after long effort and many failures, 
a kind of wheelbarrow, serviceable, handy, labor-saving. If you wotdd 
honestly use the fruit of his time, his labor, and his inventive faculty, 
you must pay him his price. Another man, with much expenditure of 
time and money, in the culture of what faculty of thinking and thought- 
utterance he may have been born with, produces, after long brooding and 
sore travail, a book, which is not only his production, but his child — a 
part of himself — ^brought forth from himself — a something, to the mak- 
ing of which he has given not only the needful labor but the material. 
What substance and life there may be in it are not only his, but him- 
self. If you Use that book, not having paid him his price therefor, can 
you afterwards meet him, can you behold your own unnatural face in a 
glass without blushing ? Is the laborer worthy of his hire, and the 
creator — he who is both laborer and that which is labored upon — ^un- 
worthy ? With him who denies, or hesitates about this right, it is 
necessary to begin at the beginning, and do one of two things — either 
civilize him up to the point at which he can apprehend a right to that 
which may be neither seen nor touched — a rignt incorporeal, or dispute 
with him upon the righteousness of the command, *' Thou shalt not 

All this seems plain enough ; but unfortunately for the wholesome 
conclusion to which it tends, an author's — a native author's — copyright 
rests neither in Great Britain nor in the United States upon this simple, 
solid ground. In equity it rests there ; and so it does at common law. 
But smce the passage of that accursed statute of Queen Anne, known in 
the reports as " 8 Anne, cap. 19," the courts and the lawyers have as- 
sumed that an author's right in his copy exists in virtue of that Act, or 
of some one framed upon it, by which, for the gracious encouragement 
of learning, copyright — that is, a right in his copy, his book — Was con- 
ferred upon and vested in the author. Now if this assumption is well 
grounded, if it be true that an author's right to say upon what terms 
people shall have copies of his books, is born of a statute, the British author 
has no ground of complaint that his books are printed and sold in the 


United States without profit to him, and without his consent, because in 
that case he has suffered no wrong. Both countries have the same Eng- 
lish common law ; but British statute law can confer no rights in the 
United States. It is u maxim of law that there is no wrong without a 
remedy. To turn this maxim round and say, " Here is no remedy, 
therefore there has been no wrong," might in some cases make the judges 
stare. But where a right exists in virtue of a statute, there is of neces- 
sity a remedy ; and if copyright exists only in virtue of some statute, 
then what need of words to show that where copyright is set at naught 
and cannot be enforced, there has been no wrong ? If the British 
author and the British publisher get all that the law gives, under 
which the one writes and the other publishes, and in virtue of which they 
claim payment, then they have all that is theirs. As to what goes on 
beyond the reach of an Act of Parliament, that is none of their busi- 
ness. If they receive any more money than comes to them lawfully in 
virtue of a right created by law, and which was one of the chief condi- 
tions upon which they undertook their risk, that more is sheer overplus 
— a windfall, gift of the gods, or whatever one may please to call some 
bounty that comes we know not exactly whence or why, but goes we 
know exactly whither. What is true in this respect of British authors 
and publishers, is, of course, equally true of their " American " brothers 
and rivals. 

But what man of common sense and single eye does not see that 
the assumption of the lawyers is absurd, monstrous ? — that an author's 
right in the use of his works is not statutory; that copyright is not 
created by Act of Parliament or Act of Congress ? That statute of 
Queen Anne of blessed memory, created no right ; it destroyed : it con- 
ferred nothing ; it restricted : it did not give ; it took away : for copy- 
right is, as we have already seen, chiefly of all rights of property, a 
natural right, one that in the very nature of things pertains to the maker 
of the copy, the author. That a man's thoughts are his own cannot be 
disputed, and, like the plainest truths, it can hardly, be proved. But 
they cannot be even possessed by or in the knowledge of another, except 
he communicates them. Does he lose his right of property in them by 
putting them upon paper ? This is not a question of opinion ; it is a 
question of fact. He puts his manuscript into his drawer, and there it 
is his exclusive possession, and in his exclusive knowledge — a thing quite 
out of reach of all other men, except in a country where it may be law- 
ful and usual to break open a man's enclosure, and take his private 
papers, to your own or to the public benefit. Does he give up his right 
in it by allowing you to read it, or to make a copy for your own benefit? 
No ; for however it may be with regard to the spontaneous fruits of 
nature ; the products of human industry, which are the results of labor 
and contrivance, are owned by a right which must be respected, unless it 
has been expressly and openly renounced. The writer of a manuscript 
can fix the conditions upon which it may be used by other persons. 
Those conditions may be unwise and unkind ; they cannot be unjust, for 
a man may do what he will with his own, and they cannot be disputed. 
He says to the public, " You wish to have the pleasure or the instruc- 
tion to be derived from the reading of my book. Well, do you, through 
your Government, secure to me the receipt of a certain proportion of 




the money for which each copy may be sold, and I will print my book 
and publish it ; otherwise, back goes my copy into my drawer, or here 
it goes into the fire ! " 

Circumstances, common sense, and an ordinary knowledge of the 
world, may be relied upon to procure for the public the reading of his 
book without the payment of an exorbitant price to the author : for, by 
insisting upon the latter, he would defeat his own interests. Without 
publication, the book is useless to him as a means of getting a return for 
his labor. This obvious condition of the case was well made by Mr. 
Justice Aston, of the Kang^s Bench, an all-sufficient answer to the argu- 
ment gravely put before that court — and which is still sometimes heard 
— that an author, by publication of his book, makes the copy common. 
In other words, the act necessary to making a book useful and profitable 
to its author is construed to be destructive of his property in the results 
of his labor ! Surely such an argument is worthy only of men too un- 
civilized, or too dull-brained, to see that a man may sell the use of a 
thing without selling the thing itself; or part with a certain right in it 
without giving up all his rights ; and that an author, in publishing and 
selling his book, sells to each buyer a certain use only of the book: He 
sells the paper, the print, and the binding absolutely, but the book con- 
ditionally — that is, he sells the volume, and the use of it, but not the 
copy. He does not, by publication, openly renounce his natural right in 
the fruits of his time, his thought, and his labor, without which open 
renunciation all such natural rights are presumed to be reserved and re- 
tained.* Now this right in his copy he can sell, or give, or bequeath. 
Unless he can do this with it, it is not his ; he is not in its full posses- 
sion ; he has merely the usufruct of his work, a life interest, or an inter- 
est more or less limited. To say which, with regard to that which a 
man has not only produced by labor, but has made, as no man ever 
makes a ship or a house, or a bale of cotton, is absurd, and, more, is 
shameful. An author clearly has a natural right to sell all that he owns. 
This is no privilege, or peculiar right of his : he has it in common with 
all other men. He has, therefore, the natural right to sell, or to trans- 
fer for any consideration whatever, his absolute control over his copy. 
The person to whom it is transferred, having acquired all the author's 
rights, can transfer them to another, and he in his turn to another, and 
' so forth, as long as there is any thing to be transferred. So it is with a 
house or a ship that a man has built ; and why it should not be so with 
a book that he has made, no one can say, or at least has hitherto said, 
except upon grounds that invalidate the possession of all property. 
Then comes a time when the house and the ship deteriorate in value, and 
finally become so worthless, that there is nothing in them worth buying ; 
and so it would be with the copyright of a book. But then there are 
some books that seem to be of immortal worth. Well ; and then let 
him who owns them profit by them, as if he owned a noble, imperishable 
house. But this profit will not then go to the author. What if it do 
not? Did the Duke of Richmond build Belvoir Castle? The conclu- 
sion is that copyright, if it is not created and conferred by statute, is a 
natural, absolute, and perpetual right. That it existed, and in the nature 

♦ "Barbeyrac, Notes on Puffendorf." Maugham, p. 10. 



of things must have existed, before the making of any law upon the 
subject, we have seen, I trust, with sufficient clearness. But let us see 
what the statute of Anne is, what it pretended to do, and what was the 
author's relation to his copy before the passing of that Act, and let us 
consider the last point first. 

The common law of England recognized the natural, absolute, and 
perpetual right of the author in his copy ; and this right was transferred 
by him, and bought and sold without limitation, until the Act of .Queen 
Anne became British law upon this subject. Books were entered by 
their titles and their author's names upon the " Stationers' Register," as 
belonging to certain persons, and if these persons sold them to others, 
the transfer was made upon that register. The register and the transfer 
made the person recorded as the owner of the book its legal proprietor, 
with the sole right of printing it ; and the duration of that right was 
without limitation, expressed or implied. The business of authors, and 
especially of stationers (as publishers and booksellers were then called) 
was conducted upon this recognized practice of the trade, this acknowl- 
edged right at common law. This custom was proved in the case of 
Millar v. Taylor, for the violation of the copyright of Thomson's 
" Seasons," which was tried in 1769, and in a special verdict, the jury 
found : 

" That before the reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne, it was usual 
to purchase from authors the perpetual copyright of their books, and to 
assign them from hand to hand for valuable considerations, and to make 
the same the subject of family settlements for the provision of wives and 

So much for the notion that copyright is not a natural, but a statu- 
tory right, a right created by Act of Parliament, which has but recent- 
ly been seriously put forth. Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of the Rolls, 
said in 1761, " It is not necessary to determine whether authors had a 
property in their works before the reign of Queen Anne. If they had 
not, it was a reproach to the law." But it is clear that they had this 
right. What the Queen Anne Act did was, under the pretence of the 
encouragement of learning, by securing copyright to authors and their 
representatives, and enabling them to enforce those rights — ^to restrict, 
diminish, and limit the rights of authors in their books, to lay burthens 
upon them, and even to control the prices which they should ask for 
the fruit of their own labors. The title of the Act is, " An Act for the 
Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the copies of Printed Books in 
the Authors, or purchasers of such copies during the times therein 
mentioned." Remembering that the copies were already vested in the 
authors by natural right, and at common law in perpetuity, and consid- 
ering that the first section of this law assumed to confer upon the author 
of a book, or upon his representative, the sole right and liberty of print- 
ing such book " for the term of twenty-one years " in certain cases, 
and others, " for the term of fourteen years, and no longer ^'^ we see 
that this Act gave nothing in the way of copyright, and took away much. 
It gave something in making it easier for the author or the publisher to 

enforce his right, which from the loose and piratical practices of the 


* Maugham, p. 16. 



trade was subject to depredation, against which it had long been diffi- 
cult for him to protect himself. This liability to robbery was the only 
need for legblation upon the subject, as &r as " the encouragement Oi 
learning '^ was concerned. Parliament might as well for the encouragement 
of building have passed an Act providing that every man who built a 
house should have an undisputed right to live in, rent, or sell it for 
fourteen years, and no longer. But, in addition to this curtailment and 
restriction of the author's property in his book by natural right and at 
common law, the Act required every bookseller to sell his books at a 
price not deemed '' too high and unreasonable " by the Lord Arch-bishop 
of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and ten other dignitaries of the 
realm, either one of whom could, upon complaint and after heating, com- 
pel ihe bookseller to reduce his price to one that seemed just and rea- 
sonable to the dignity aforesaid, and to pay the costs of the proceeding. 
It also provided that nine copies, on the best paper, of every book pub- 
lished should be given by the author and the publisher to the libraries of 
certain Universities and Faculties, in default of which the copyright 
should fail, and the bookseller should be fined. All copyright laws 
in Great Britain and the United States are mere modifications of this 
beheficent and beautiful enactment of Queen Anne's day, which dimin- 
ished the author's rights, and laid burthens upon him and his business 
partner, the publisher, for the encouragement of learning. One copy of 
each book only has been demanded hitherto in the United States — that 
deposited as the book, copyright of which is claimed. But some years 
ago Congress passed an Act requiring a copy to be given to its own 
library, in default of which the author loses his copyright : a most un- 
righteous act. Upon what pretence can Congress go to Mr. Longfellow, 
and say, give us a copy of each one of your books, or you shall have no 
property in all the other copies. But this is all in keeping. If Par- 
liament and Congress give authors the right to the enjoyment of the 
fruit of their labours, then Parliament and Congress, of course, may 
make the conditions of their gift, or, be it remembered, they may refuse 
the gift altogether, and on any terms whatever ; and if the author's 
right in his copy is merely statutory, then the British author has no 
grounds of complaint that his books are printed without profit to him 
in the United States, because there British statutes have no force, and 
there no rights can exist by Act of Parliament. 

The remedy for all this confusion and wrong is a simple one. No 
legislation is needed — that is, none of a positive character ; no act for 
the encouragement of learning, of which we have had quite enough. Let 
Parliament and Congress simply repeal in ten words all copyright laws, 
and the .British author's right to his book in the United States, and 
the " American " author's to his in Great Britain, would be as abso- 
lute and^defensible as Sir Edward Cunard's is in one of his steamers, 
whether it be in New York or Liverpool; and if it wefre deemed 
necessary to restrict the duration of copyright, although the necessity 
of the restriction is not easy to be discovered, to the few words 
of repeal there might be added a few others to the effect that for the 
benefit of the buyers of books, no author's right in his copy shall ex- 
ist for a longer period than sixty years, or during his own life, and 
that of his heir or heirs-at-law living at the time of his death. Until 


this fetep or its equivalent is taken, and the author's right is recognized 
as one not created, but modified and restricted by statute law, British 
authors in the United States, and ^^ American '' authors in Great Britain, 
can have no standing, no claim based on right, but only an appeal in 
misericordiam to the compassion of the legislature of either country. — 
iHm an article in ** The Sroa(hay^^^ for Mat/, 1868. 






^jffpPfiP ^mmtim. 



• I. This association shall be called " ITie Gopyright Association for the 
Protection and Advancement of Literature and Art'*'* 

II. Its officers shall be, a President, seven Vice-Presidents, two 
Recording Secretaries, Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, and an Ex- 
ecutive Committee of Seven. 

III. The duties of the officers shall be to carry out the objects of 
the Association in their several departments. 

IV. These objects are expressed in the title of the association. The 
primary and special object shall be to gemote, by all legitimate means, 
the enactment of a just and suitable International Copyright Law, for 
the benefit of authors and artists in all parts of the world. 

V. Meetings of the Association shall be held on the second Tuesday 
of each month, unless otherwise ordered. 

VI. An election for officers of the Association shall be held at the 
October meeting of each year. 

After the adoption of the above Constitution, the following ticket of 
officers was chosen, to serve until the meeting of October, 1868. 

President : W. C. Bryant. 

Vice-Presidents : H. W. Longfellow, of Mass., 

G. H. BoKER, of Penn., 
W. G. SIMMS, of S. C, 

F. Lteber, 

G. W. Curtis, 
H. Greel-ey, 

F. A. P. Barnard, 
Treasurer : Henry Ivison. 
Recording Secretaries : C. A. Spencer, 

A. D. F. Randolph. 
Corresponding Secreta/ry : J. Parton. 
JExecutive Committee: S. I. Prime, 

S. S. Cox, 

G. P. Putnam, 


E. G. Squier, 
E. C. Stedman, 
R. G. White. 

W N. Y. 



We, the undersigned, concerned in the production, manufiictare, 
and sale of Books, Periodicals, Designs, and Objects of Art, request 
the early attention of your honorable bodies to the subject of Inter- 
national Copyright. We respectfully solicit the passage of a Bill 
such as, in the judgment of Congress, may best secure the rights of 
Authors, Artists, and Designers to control and derive profit from 
the multiplication of copies of their works in countries other than 
their own. 

And your memorialists, &c. 

March, 1868. 

Agassiz, Louis, Author : "Natural History," etc., Cambridge, Mass. 
Alden, Wm. Livingston, Assftc. Editor : " Citizen," New York. 
Algeb, W. R. Author : " Future Life," etc., Boston, Mass. 
Amebican News Co. New York. 
Atwateb, E. R " Christian Intelligencer," New York. 

Babbitt Bbos. Booksellers & Publishers, New York. 

Babnes & Co, a. S. Publishers^ New York. 

Baebett, Jos. H. Author : " Life of Lincoln," Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Basseit, Allen L. Publisher : " Northern Monthly," New York. 

Batchbldeb, Samuel, Jb. Author: "Young Men of America," 

Boston, Mass. 
Beach, E. T. P. Author : " Story of Pelayo," New York. 
Beadle & Co. Booksellers & Publishers, New York. 
Beaedsley, E. Edwabds, Author: "Episcopal Church," New 

Beecheb, Henby Wabd, Author : " Sermons," " Norwood," etc., 

New York. 
Beees, Ethel Lynn, Author : " Poems," Yonkers, New York. 
BicKMOBE, Albebt S. Author, Cambridge, Mass. 
Blackbubn, Wm. M. Author : " Calvin," etc., Trenton,N. J. 
BoABDMAN, Henby A. Author : " Bible in the Family," Philadelphia. 
Bogabt, Wm. H. Author : " Life of Bootfe," Albany, New York. 
BoKEB, Geo. H. Author : " Poems," Philadelphia. 
BoNNEB, RoBEBT, Publisher : "New York Ledger," New York. 
BouBNE, Wm. Gland, Editor : " Soldiers' Friend," New York. 
BoYNTON, Chas. B. Author : " History of Navy," Washington, D. C. 
Beady, Feed. A. Bookseller & Publisher, New York. 
Bbiggs, Charles F. Author & Journalist, New York. 
Bbisted, Chables Astob, Author: "English TJniversities," etc., 

New York 
Bbittan, S. B. Author : " Man in his Relations," New York. 
Bbown, Henby T. Editor : " American Artisan," New York. 
Bbovtn, Nathan, Editor : " American Baptist," New York. 
Bbuns, Henby M. Author & Prof, of Literature, Charleston, S. C. 
Bbyant, Wm. C. Author & Journalist, New York. 





l5CfT3feTNCH, S. G. Author: "Evidences Christianity," Cambridge, 

CAiiDWKLL, S. C. " Methodist,*' New York. 
C AiiVBRT, Geo. H. Author : " Gentleman," Newport, R. I. 
CoxE, A, Cleveland, Author: "Christian Ballads," ** Sermons," 
Buffalo, N. Y. 

Dana, Wm. B. Editor : " Merchants Magazine," New York. 

Darley, F. O. C. Artist, Claymont, Del. 

Davis, Andrew Jackson, Author : " Principles of Nature," Orange, 

New Jersey. 
Davis, Theo. R. Artist, New York. 
Dknnison, Charles. W. Author, New York. 
Dennison, Mart A. Author, New York. 
Derby, J. C. Publisher, New York. 

Dewey, Chester P. Editor : " Commercial Advertiser," New York. 
Dick & Fitzgerald, Booksellers & Publishers, New York. 
DuGANNE, A. J. H. Author : " Hist. Government," Albany, N. Y. 
DuYCKiNCK, E. A. Author : " Cyclop, of Amer. Lit.," etc.. New York. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Author, Concord, Mass. 
Evans, Augusta J. Author : " Beulah," etc.. Mobile, Ala. 
Everett William, Author : " On the Cam," Cambridge, Mass. 

Fish, Henry C. Author : " Pulpit Eloquence," Newark, N. Y. 
Francis, Samuel W. Author : " Physicians of New York," Newport, 

R. I. 
Frebse, Jacob R. Author : *' Travels in Egypt," Trenton, N. J. 
Fremont, Jessie Benton, Author : *' Story of the Guard," New 

Fremont, John C. Author : "Explorations," New York. 
Fuller, R. F. Author : " Chaplain Fuller," Boston, Mass. 

Gage, Frances D. Author, New York. 
Garrison, W. P. " The Nation," New York. 
Gould, E. S. Author : " Good English," New York. 
Gray, Asa, Author : " Botanical Works," Harvard College. 
Greeley, Horace, Author: " American Conflict," etc.. New York. 
Greene, Geo. W. Author : " American Revolution," etc.. New 

Geiscom, John H. Author : " Use and Abuse of Air," etc.. New 

Gross, S. G. Author : " Surgery," etc., Philadelphia. 
GuiicK, David B. Engraver, New York. 

Hall, John, Editor : " Alexander's Correspondence," Trenton, N. J. 
Halpinb, Charles G. Author : " Miles O'Reilly," etc., New York. 
Hammond, Wm. A. Author : Medical Works, New York. 
Heetzbbrg, CoNSTAirriNE, Artist, Brooklyn. 

HiGGiNSON, Thos. Wentworth, Author : "Out-Door Papers," 
Newport, R. I. 



Holmes, Maria J. Author : " Tempest & Sunshine," Brockport^i^ -^< 
Holmes, Oliveb Wendell, Author : " Autocrat of the Breakfast 

Table," etc, Boston. 
Hopkins, J. H. Jr. Editor : " Church Jouraal," New York. 
HovBY, Alvah, Author : Theol. Works, Newton, Mass. 
Huntington, D. Prest. Natl. Acad, of Design, N. Y. 

Jbbvey, Caroline H. Author : " Vernon Grove,' '"Charleston, S. C. 
JoHONNOT, Jas. Author : " School Architecture,^' New York. 

Kemble, Frances Anne, Author: " Poems," etc., Germantown, Pa. 
King, David, Newport, R. I. 

Lelanp, Charles Godfrey, Author : " Sunshine & Thought,'' etc., 

Lewis, Dio, Author : " Physical Education," Boston, Mass. 
Leypoldt & Holt, Puhlishers, New York. 
LiEBER, Francis, Author : " Civil Liherty," etc.. New York. 
LippiNcoTT, Sarah J; " Grace Greenwood," Author, Philadelphia, 

Longfellow, Henry W. Author, Cambridge, Mass; 
Lowell, J. Russell, Editor & Author: " North Amer. Review,'^ 

Harvard College. 

Matthews, Albeet, Author, New York. 

Medbbrry, James K. Supt. : " Amer. Lit. Bureau,'' New York. 

Miles, J. W. Author & Prof, of Classical Literature, Charleston, 

Miller, Wood & Co. Booksellers & Publishers, New York. 
i Morris, Wm. H. Author : " Infantry Tactics," New York. 

MuzzEY, Artemas B. Author, Cambridge, Mass. 

;^ Nast, Thomas, Artist, New York. 

' Olmsted, Fred. Law, Author: " Slave States," etc., New York. 

Orr, Nath'l. Engraver, New York. 

Palfrey, John G. Author : " History of New England," Boston, 

Palmer, J. W. Author : " Up and down the Irawaddy," New York. 
Parkman, Francis, Author : " Jesuits in North America,'' Boston, 

Parsons, Theophilus, Dane Prof. Law, Harvard — author of " Law 

of Contracts," etc. 
Parton, James, Author : " Famous Americans," etc., New York. 
Parton, Mrs. James, Author : " Fanny Fern," etc.. New York. 
Paulding, W. J. Author : " Life of Paulding," etc.. Cold Spring, 

Peabody, a. p. Author : " Religion of Nature," Boston, Mass. 
Perkins, Fred. B. Journalist & Author, New York. 
Perry, George, Editor : " Home Journal," New York. 
Philes & Co., Geo. P. Booksellers & Publishers, New York. 
Phillips, Morris, Editor : " Home Journal," New York. 


JPoKTER & CoateS, Publishers, Philadelphia. 

Porter, Noah, Author & Editor: "Webster's Dictionary," Yale 

Powell, A. M. " Anti Slavery Standard," New York. 
Prime, S. Iren^us, Author & Editor : " New York Observer," New 

Putnam & Son, G. P. Publishers, New York. 

Randolph, A. D. F. Publisher, New York. 

Hoe, a. S. Author : " IVe been Thinking," etc., East Windsor HiD, 

Roosevelt, Robert B. Author: " Superior Fishing," etc., N. Y. 
RossiTER, T. P. Artist, Cold Spring, N. Y. 
RuscHENBERGER, W. S. W. Author : " Voyage R^and the World," 

eto^ Phila. "^ 

Saxe, JofiN G. Author : " Poems," Albany, N. Y. 

ScBiBisiR & Co., Charles, Booksellers & Publishers, New York. 

Shedd, Wm. G. T. Author : " Philosophy of History," etc.. New 

SiLLiMAN, Benj. Author : " Chemistry," etc., Yale College. 
SiMMS, Wm, Gilmore, Novelist, Charleston, S. C. 
Spencer, Charles Ames, Author, New York. 
Spencer, J. A. Author : " History of United States," etc., New York. 
Sprague, Wm. B. Author : " American Pulpit," Albany, N. Y. 
Squier, E. Geo. Author : " Nicaragua," New York. 
Stedman, Edmund C. Author & Journalist, New York. 
Stoddard, R. H. Author, Jounialist, New York 
Street, Alfred B. Author : " Poems," etc., Albany, N. Y. 

Thompson, Joseph P. Author : " Egypt," " Christian Graces," etc., 

New York. 
TicKNOR & Fields, Publishers, Boston & New York. 
Tomes, Robert, Author : " Champagne Country," etc.. New York. 
Tomlinson, W. p. Author : " Kansas," New York. 
ToRREY, James D. Bookseller & Publisher, New York. 
TucKERMAN, Henry T. Author : "Criterion, Artist Life," etc.. 

New York. 
Tuthill, Louisa C. Author: "History of Architecture," etc., 

Princeton, N. Y. 

Van Wyck, Charles, " Christian Intelligencer," New York. 
Vaux, Calvert, Author : " Villas & Cottages," etc.. New York. 
Victor, Meita Victoria, Novelist, New York. 
Victor, Orville J. Historian, New York. 

Walker, John R. Assoc. Editor : " Citizen," New York. 

Walling, H. F. Author & Prof. " LaFgyette College," Easton, Pa. 

Waring, Geo. E. Author : " Agriculture,*' Newport, R. L 

Waud, Alfred R. Artist, New York. 

Waud, Wm. Artist, New York. 

Weed, Thurlow, Editor : *' Commercial Advertiser," New York* 




Wells, Samuel R. Editor: " Phrenological Jouraal," New York. 
White, Geo. G. Artist, New York. 

Wright, Jos. J. Author : " Tales of the War," Boston, Mass. 
Welliston, H. C. " Commercial Advertiser," New York. 
Withers, Fred C. Author : " Church Architecture," New York. 
WYMiLN, Jeffries, Author : Scientific Works, Harvard College. 

Yates, M. 6. " Commercial Advertiser, New York. 
Young, William, Journalist, New x ork. 


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